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Diocese of Cahors

Comprises the entire department of Lot, in France

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Cahors, Diocese of (CADURCENSIS), comprising the entire department of Lot, in France. In the beginning it was a suffragan of Bourges and later, from 1676 to the time of the Revolution, of Albi. From 1802 to 1822 Cahors was under the Archbishop of Toulouse, and combined the former Diocese of Rodez with a great part of the former Dioceses of Vabres and Montauban. However, in 1822 it was restored almost to its pristine limits: and again made suffragan to Albi. According to a tradition connected with the legend of St. Martial (see Diocese of Limoges), this saint, deputed by St. Peter, came to Cahors in the first century and there dedicated a church to St. Stephen, while his disciple, St. Amadour (Amator), the Zaccheus of the Gospel and husband of St. Veronica (see Archdiocese of Bordeaux), evangelized the diocese. In the seventeenth century these traditions were closely examined by the Abbe de Fouillac, a friend of Fenelon, and, according to him, the bones discovered at Rocamadour in 1166, and looked upon as the relics of Zaccheus, were in reality the bones of St. Amator, Bishop of Auxerre. A legend written about the year 1000 by the monks of Saint-Genou (in the Diocese of Bourges) relates that Genitus and his son Genulfus were sent to Gaul by Pope Sixtus II (257-59), and that Genulfus (Genou) was the first Bishop of Cahors. But Abbe Duchesne repudiates this tardy legend. The first historically known Bishop of Cahors is St. Floresties, correspondent of St. Paulinus of Nola (end of the fourth century). The Diocese of Cahors counted among its bishops: St. Alithus (fifth century); St. Maurilio and St. Ursicinus (sixth century); St. Rusticus, who was assassinated, his brother, St. Desiderius (Didier), the steward of King Dagobert, and St. Capuanus (seventh century); St. Ambrosius (eighth century); St. Gausbert (end of tenth century); Guillaume de Cavaillon (1208-34), who took part in the Albigensian crusade; Hugues Geraud (1312-16), implicated in the conspiracy against John XXII and sentenced to be burned alive; Bertrand de Cardaillac (1324-64) and Begon de Castelnau (1366-87), both of whom contributed so powerfully to free Quercy from English rule; Alessandro Farnese (1554-57), nephew of Pope Paul III; the Venerable Alain de Solminihac (1636-59), one of the most active reformers of the clergy in the seventeenth century, and Louis-Antoine de Noailles (1679-80), subsequently Archbishop of Paris.

The city of Cahors, visited by Pope Callistus II (1119-24), was the birthplace of Jacques d’Euse (1244-1334), who became pope in 1316 under the title of John XXII, and the tower of whose palace is still to be seen in Cahors. He built a university there, its law faculty being so celebrated as to boast at times of 1200 pupils. Fenelon studied at this institution, which, in 1751, was annexed to the University of Toulouse. In the sixteenth century the Diocese of Cahors was severely tried by religious wars, and the Pelegry College, which gratuitously sheltered a certain number of university students, became noted for the admirable way in which these young men defended Cahors against the Huguenots. The cathedral of Cahors, built at the end of the eleventh and restored in the fourteenth century, has a beautiful Gothic cloister. When, in the Middle Ages, the bishops officiated in this church they had the privilege, as barons and counts of Cahors, of depositing their sword and armor on the altar. In the diocese special homage is paid to St. Sacerdos, Bishop of Limoges, and his mother, Mundana (seventh century); Esperie (Speria), virgin and martyr (eighth century); St. Geraud, Count of Aurillac (beginning of the eleventh century); Blessed Christopher, companion of St. Francis of Assisi and founder of a Franciscan convent at Cahors in 1216, and Blessed Jean-Gabriel Perboyre, born in the village of Mongesty, 1802, and martyred in China, 1840. The city of Figeac owed its origin to a Benedictine abbey founded by Pepin in 755. The principal places of pilgrimage are: Notre-Dame de Rocamadour, visited by St. Louis (1245), Charles the Fair (1324), and Louis XI (1463), its bell being said to have rung miraculously several times to announce the deliverance of shipwrecked sufferers who had commended themselves to the Blessed Virgin; Notre-Dame de Felines and Notre-Dame de Verdale, both dating back to the eleventh century; Saint-Hilaire Lalbenque, where some highly-prized relics of St. Benedict Joseph Labre are preserved.

Prior to the enforcement of the Law of 1901 there were both Capuchins and Lazarists in the Diocese of Cahors. The schools are in charge of four important local orders of nuns: the Daughters of Jesus, numbering 800 (founded in 1820, with mother-house at Vaylats); the Sisters of Mercy, having a membership of 200 (founded in 1814, with mother-house at Monteng); the Sisters of Our Lady of Calvary, 1000 in number (founded in 1833, with mother-house at Gramat); and the Sisters of Saint-Joseph, numbering 150 (mother-house at Sainte-Colombe). A society composed of 8 diocesan missionaries is stationed at Rocamadour. The “Revue Catholique des Eglises” has recently begun an investigation of all the dioceses of France, and, although little has yet been done, this investigation has been completed in the Diocese of Cahors, and shows that, out of 85,000 men and 90,000 women, 60,000 men and over 80,000 women make their Easter duty; and here we would incidentally remark that, despite this favorable condition, the deputies and senators elected by the department vote for all anti-religious laws. In 1900 the Diocese of Cahors had the following religious institutions: 16 infant schools, 1 boys’ orphanage, 6 girls’ orphanages, 4 industrial schools, 1 house of shelter, 10 hospitals and asylums, 1 insane asylum, and 12 houses for religious nurses. In 1905 (at the close of the period under the Concordat) the population was 226,720, with 33 pastorates, 448 succursal parishes (mission churches), and 55 curacies supported by the State.


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